First Heat of the Day Manly

First Heat of The Day
First World Surfboard Riding Titles Manly, Australia, 16th and 17th May 1964
By Garry Birdsall

Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia, staged the world's first surfboard riding championship. Sponsored by Ampol Petroleum and organised by Manly Council, it was a huge success. The world's best surfers gathered on the beach drawing large crowds for the heats and an estimated 60,000 people turned out to watch the finals. My painting depicts the first heat of the day, too early for all but the most enthusiastic spectators.

I was lucky enough to have competed in this memorable event, where I shared waves and made lifelong friendships with surfing greats from all over the globe. Since that event 50 years ago, surfing has continued to break down language, race and religious barriers and to bond surfing mates together in a passion for the ocean and riding waves.

The winners were all Australian, 1st Senior Mens winner was Midget Farrelly, 1st Senior Ladies winner was Phyllis O'Donnell and 1st Junior was Robert Kenealey.